The Dead Sea is on the eastern border of the nation of Israel. It was our first stop. As we traveled south and east from the airport in Tel-Aviv, I was taken by the harshness of a desert region like I’d never seen before. The farther south we went, the less vegetation we saw and the more barren sand and limestone—craggy and desolate mountains—enveloped us. When I had envisioned the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness prior to entering the land of milk and honey, I’d never pictured this harsh and inhospitable wasteland. With the blessings of God promised and attending them already, their murmurings about being thirsty and hungry were inexcusable; however, I could see the great temptation to be fearful about the source of the next drink of water.
Sometimes we are like that, spiritually. We live in a wilderness of sin. God’s already promised us the living water that assures us the victory, the promised land. He’s promised a way of escape for every temptation (I Corinthians 10:13). But we fear. We doubt. We complain. We look at the desert instead of the Deliverer.
When we finally arrived at the shoreline of the Dead Sea, I realized that we were in a commercial resort area. Built around the Dead Sea were fine hotels with spas and pools and restaurants and people were flocking to “experience” the Dead Sea.
Situated at the very lowest point of the earth’s surface (1412 feet below sea level) is this body of water with the highest saline concentration of any water on the earth. Bordered by Jordan, the West Bank and Israel, it’s just over 30 percent salt and cannot sustain any complex life forms, plant or animal. It’s truly dead because of its salinity. If you touch the water with any open paper cut or scratch, you will quickly feel the burn of the salinity, but the salt content also promotes cleansing and healing.
Sometimes the salt of the earth, spiritually speaking, is that way. When it touches the wounds of sin, it burns. It’s painful to touch a life that’s been marred by sin with the healing power of Christianity. Healing often means the burn of rejection by former friends, separation from activities that I once enjoyed, and, most certainly the burning pain of guilt realized. But it’s the healing remedy for the sin that cuts us!
The “Dead Sea Experience,” for which the area is famous, is floating in the salty water. SO we did it. Our group of bathing beauties made our way to an isolated area of the Sea and waded in to our knees. Following instructions, we tried to just sit down in the water. But we just bobbed right back up! Then we just laid horizontally on top of the water and, with no effort at all, floated around in the Dead Sea. We laughed at each other, took photos, and generally had the best time making fun of each other as we lost our balances in attempts to stand back up. (You just can’t get your feet back on the bottom! When the men had their turn at the experience, Glenn even sustained a pretty good little cut on the palm of his had as he tried to lift himself back up in the water by placing his hand on the jagged, hardened salt on the bottom of the sea….But he healed quickly in the medicinal waters.)
The sea is receding and projects are ongoing to bring in more water to replenish the shrinking sea. Water is definitely being pumped into the area in large quantities to maintain the resorts that have been built around the Dead Sea. After all, they don’t have a Moses to speak to the rock in that desert, anymore!
The largest lesson from the Dead Sea has been famously recorded in a song we often sang in worship as I was growing up. I cannot improve or expound on the words of this song. They are perfect! May we all strive to be like the rushing Jordan rather than the Dead Sea. May we, those who have been given the gift of the water of life, be channels of spiritual life and blessing to those to whom the living waters can flow through us! May we give Him glory as we share the water of life!
There is a Sea
by Lula Klingman Zahn
There is a sea which day by day
Receives the rippling rills
And streams that spring from wells of God
Or fall from cedared hills
But what it thus receives it gives
With glad unsparing hand
A stream more wide, with deeper tide
Flows on to lower land
There is a sea which day by day
Receives a fuller tide
But all its store it keeps, nor gives
To shore nor sea beside
It’s Jordan stream, now turned to brine
Lies heavy as molten lead
It’s dreadful name doth e’er proclaim
That sea is waste and dead.
Which shall it be for you and me
Who God’s good gifts obtain?
Shall we accept for self alone
Or take to give again?
For He who once was rich indeed
Laid all His glory down
That by His grace, our ransomed race
Should share His wealth and crown.
Words public domain